Wanting to plan a break from the winter weather, we got a very good deal on an inside cabin on Grandeur. We've sailed on the Lady G before (Sept. 2018 NE/Canada) and knew what to expect. Me (53), Husband (57). Our neighbors also went and this was their first cruise.
We got emails prior to departure that the ship would go through extra sanitizing so do not arrive before noon. We arrived a little after noon due to traffic just before the terminal. Then we waited outside in a line to get into the terminal. It was quite cold, so it would have been nice if the first check in point could have been inside the doors instead of right at the door. The line moved very slowly at first, then picked up the pace. I found out from others that they were actually allowed to board just after 11, so was a bit disappointed that we delayed our arrival, but I'm a rule follower!
Check in was very easy after that, and we went to the Windjammer for lunch. It was very crowded, but the food was good. Cabins were ready at 2pm (as opposed to the typical 1pm.--another result of the extra sanitation efforts.)
Due to a storm off the Carolina coast, we anchored in the Bay just south of the Bay Bridge. It was a nice treat to eat breakfast in the morning with the Bridge as our scenery. We finally started our journey down the Bay around lunchtime of Day 2. Because of the storm, we had to travel slowly once in the ocean and we still had some rougher than average seas. We also had to miss our stop at Nassau. I had booked a day pass from Resort for a Day, and they refunded the deposit (without us doing a thing) since we didn't make it to the port. I will use Resort for a Day again based on this experience:) We also had to make an unplanned stop to drop off a passenger at Cape Canaveral. It was fun to watch us dock and to compare the size of the Grandeur to the Harmony which was also docked. This was a quick stop to drop off the passenger, and we were back at sea. We finally got off the ship at Coco Cay on Monday (cruise started on Thursday). By then, we were quite happy to be on land for awhile!
We enjoyed Coco Cay, but it was quite windy by the shoreline. The interior of the island wasn't as windy. We chose chairs on Chill Beach and I did attempt to snorkel using my own equipment (no fins). I saw a few fish, but nothing too exciting. I didn't go out too far, so there may have been more out further. I was actually warmer in the water than out of the water! I had been hearing roosters crowing and finally saw them (one with four baby chicks)! I also saw numerous hummingbirds, a few iguanas, a peacock, and a few other birds as I walked around the island. We enjoyed the lunch at Chill Grill.
We took the Kennedy Space Center Guided Tour excursion. I felt like the guided tour part mainly consisted of waiting for people at designated meeting points. We had a large group of 60 people--I think that was too many to get a good guided tour. The bus tour run by the Space Center was quite good, but that is included in the regular admission! If doing this, I would recommend just getting a shuttle to the KSC and touring on your own.
After going through some thick fog entering the Charleston port, we did have a little touring time with no rain. We managed to take the historic Carriage tour --booked it that day at one of the kiosks and paid $30 pp for the hour long tour. It was good. I think I expected more interesting tidbits and highlights of the city, but it was mostly about the restaurants/food and the houses with the slave quarters in the back. I did find the facts about the carriage tours/horses surprisingly interesting:) We also walked through the City Market buildings.
Food on the ship was good. We thought the Windjammer had a wide variety and very good food (even the French Fries were yummy!). We ate there for every breakfast and lunch. I wish we had tried it for dinner, but I thought we should do the main dining room and get waited on. We had wonderful waiters, but found some of the food to be not as good as our prior cruises. I don't care for seafood and stick to more traditional meats and veggies. The New York Strip steak was thin and kind of fatty/tough. The chicken was better one night than another. My husband loves seafood and enjoyed some of those dishes. His lobster was good on lobster night, but for the first time on a cruise (this was our 5th) he was not offered a second lobster tail. On our past cruises, the waiters would bring out extra lobsters and other extras (Not sure what to get? They'd bring a second entree for us to try without us even asking!) through the week. Nothing extra on this cruise. One night I did specifically ask for two desserts because I wanted to try them (I shared!). I almost felt like I annoyed our server. My favorite dessert was the Royal Cheesecake. If you like cheesecake, you can't go wrong with that!
On our final night after the Farewell Show, we went to the Windjammer just for the view as we cruised over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It was our first time in the Windjammer when they were serving dinner. We decided that on future cruises, we want to try the buffet for dinner a few times! We'll check the menu for the main dining room (can be viewed on the screens by the elevators) and if we don't see something that sounds great, we'll head to the Windjammer instead!
I was impressed with the Grandeur musicians and dancers on this cruise. One of the singers, Tim, had an incredible voice. He sounded like Josh Groban. We enjoyed the Headliner shows.
The shopping talk was awful! We only went for the maps and the door prizes. After an hour, we left! No door prizes had been given out yet and I just couldn't take the boring talking anymore!
I found the ship's Centrum area all the way up to Deck 8 to be very smoky smelling. I did not have this issue on any former cruise and don't know why this happened, but I could not watch some of the entertainment in the Centrum when the smoke was so bad it hurt my eyes.
-- Look for a cruise group on other social media(Cruise Critic frowns upon naming any here). I found one and it was a very nice group. Also make sure you join the Meet and Mingle and Roll Call for your cruise. A cabin crawl was set up and we got to see a junior suite and grand suite and talk about booking tips etc with other members. Definitely do a cabin crawl if you'd be interested in seeing other cabin set ups (or be the organizer and set one up!).
==Take magnets. The walls/doors are all metallic. I used magnets with hooks to hang jackets, hats etc, and button type magnets to organize papers. Just attach to walls! This helped to organize that small interior cabin space!
--Remember you can carry on up to 12-- 17 ounce sodas/waters (I don't drink alcohol, but you can take 2 bottles of wine too). This can save you a lot of money! Yeah, it's a pain to carry it on and not as easy if you have to fly to your port, but if driving, it's great!
--If you can't stand being around cigarette/cigar smoke, avoid the Casino! You can go up to Deck 6 and walk through the Centrum shopping area/photo area to get to the Palladium theater. If you want to sit in the balcony, you're right there. If you want to go down to the main seating area, just use the steps or elevator.
-Say hi to Robert (the sheriff) in the Windjammer at breakfast! He's great!
-If it's cold in Baltimore, make sure you have some warm weather attire! You may have to wait outside while checking in or when waiting for your ride after disembarkation. I was surprised that they will not allow you to wait inside at disembarkation. Keep moving! Also check weather for your port cities. Take appropriate outerwear!
-Remember that the only toiletries provided are bar soap and a "shampoo/body wash" pump in the shower. Take your own if you are picky about your shampoo/body wash. You'll also need to take lotion and conditioner if you use any.
-The hair dryer is basic/high-lo. I was fine with it, but some people want to take their own.
-If buying any of RC's 2 for $20 t-shirts, I'd suggest buying a size (or 2) larger than you think you need! I just washed ours and they definitely shrunk.
The cabin is small, but space is efficient. If you're on a longer cruise with lots of hanging clothes, you may need a few extra hangers. You should have plenty of storage space if you use your space wisely. Use hook magnets on walls to hang hats/jackets, etc. to help organize.
There is plenty to do without buying excursions. However, if there's an excursion you want to do, keep checking prices. They seemed to fluctuate quite a bit!
The "guided" part of the tour was not worth paying extra for (we actually paid less for the guided tour than what the shuttle cost). I think we could have done more if doing our own touring. The bus tour that was included with the Space Center admission was excellent.View All 235 Kennedy Space Center Reviews
We booked at the port after we arrived. It was an hour tour ($30 pp) and rich in history. I would have liked to have heard more of the modern history with sites pointed out.View All 11 Carriage Tour Reviews